By Agoha, Chikaoha Justice.
Some students at the Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri, have described as a ‘silent scam’ the tuition-free education policy of Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State government.
The students made their views known while responding to questions from Education Post at the institution’s main campus in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to the students, although they were not required to pay the over One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000) which they had been paying before Governor Okorocha’s tuition-free education policy, they were nonetheless expected to let go of huge sums of money to the tune of over Twenty Thousand Naira (N20,000) as fee for tuition.
Investigations by Education Post revealed that under the new education policy of the Okorocha-led government, students of IMSU who are indigenes of the state were expected to pay Twenty Thousand Naira (N20, 000) as school fees; and this was in addition to another Twenty Thousand Naira (N20, 000) which all students were mandated to pay as fee for online course registrations.
Other students who are not indigenes of the state were mandated to pay as high as Sixty Thousand Naira (N60, 000) in addition to the Twenty Thousand Naira (N20, 000) for course registration as well as money for mandatory textbooks.
A student in the institution’s Department of English who agreed to speak to Education Post on the condition of anonymity said the tuition-free policy was simply a “silent scam”:
“For me, I would prefer a situation where we would be asked to pay school fees in order to demand quality tuition.
“This policy of Governor Okorocha is simply a silent scam; only very few persons outside of this university know that we are still mandated to pay tuition fee as high as Twenty Thousand Naira (N20, 000) every session. Yet the government goes about blowing the trumpet of free education as if we pay nothing for learning,” the student said.
Another student who is not an indigene of the state but studies in the university’s Department of Theatre Arts said she expends over One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000) every session on tuition fees, online course registration and on textbooks made mandatory by almost all the lecturers in the university.
“It is annoying to hear people talk about free education, especially around me. Those who do so are simply unaware of what we go through here in the name of learning.
“How can someone who spends over One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000) every session be said to be enjoying tuition-free education?
“It is all politics, I know. Even the students who are indigenes of Imo State pay Twenty Thousand Naira (N20, 000) as tuition fees in addition to money spent on online course registrations and on textbooks.
“It is honestly not fair to call what we see here ‘free education,’” she lamented.
Other students who spoke to Education Post also stated that the tuition-free education policy of the state government had adversely affected the quality of education even as lecturers had become more aggressive in imposing their textbooks on students in order to generate money to augment their salaries which were usually not regular.
It may be recalled that Governor Rochas Okorocha had, at the onset of his administration, declared a tuition-free education policy for students who are indigenes of Imo State and are studying in state-owned institutions from primary to tertiary levels.